26/11/2022

1865, Dunedin NZ – New Zealand International Exhibition

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1865 Dunedin

Name:New Zealand International Exhibition
Dates:
Days:
Venue:Large stone building and annexes at the centre of Dunedin
Theme:Extractive economics and progress
Exhibitors:38 classes – local organisations plus those from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, plus from other colonies like Australia, Canada, Fiji
Awards:
Visitors:
Legacy:Financial performace was not declared. Museum exhibits and an art school.

Remarkable that New Zealand had a world fair just seventeen years after Scots had settled for the first time in Otaga. Dunedin had been an unremarkable small town on the South Island before gold was discovered nearby in 1861. It became a prosperous developing settlement.

Local church leaders first proposed the exhibition funded by the colonial government in Wellington and the Otaga provincial government.

1865 Dunedin venue

The venue was designed by Mason and Clayton, local architects. It was a stone-built Italianate design with a central clock tower. It was the most impressive building in Dunedin. It would subsequently be used in part as a hospital.

Exhibits were largely of fine arts and machinery. Exhibits were attracted from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, plus from other colonies like Australia, Canada and Fiji, a UK stand also featured an Indian Court.

Interior views

There were 38 classes, the first was mining, quarrying, metallurgy and mineral products – large obelisk represented the gold extracted from the region. A limited amount of Maori products were exhibited – ceremonial objects, weapons, weaving and carving…

Construction delays meant it opened before completion with questions about its financial backing. The Governor did not attend because of wars with Maori tribes in the North Island. Its outcome is unclear, though it set the precedent for other shows around the colonies. Some of the local exhibits were later preserved in the Colonial and Otaga museums. The fine arts, particularly local landscapes, led to a Dundein Art School, the first in New Zealand.

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